Family Video Liquidating Operations, Cites Ongoing Pandemic for Shutdown

Family Video, the last-standing packaged-media rental chain in the United States, is calling it quits nearly 43 years after opening its first store — Video Movie Club — in Springfield, Ohio, in 1978. The privately-owned company, which cited the ongoing pandemic for the decision, said it would begin liquidation of its remaining 250 stores offering deals on DVD, Blu-ray Disc movies and related merchandise. At its peak, Family Video operated 800 stores.

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“While we have faced digital competition from Netflix and others for years, nothing has been as devastating to our business as COVID-19,” Keith Hoogland, CEO of Highland Ventures, the Glenview, Ill.-based company that owns Family Video, said in a media statement. “We are very thankful to have been able to provide entertainment for many family movie nights.”

The chain posted a letter from Hoogland on its website shortly before noon PT on Jan. 6, stating that the impact of COVID-19 combined with the lack of fresh theatrical product “pushed us to the end of an era.”

He expressed special thanks to Family Video employees and customers, noting, “Without you, we would not have been the last man standing in our industry.”

Last November, the chain mounted a last-ditch promotional campaign called #SaveTheVideoStore to drum up consumer support. The campaign was supported by studios and Hollywood talent such as Clerks director Kevin Smith.

“Our plan with this campaign is to not hide from the stark reality that our business has been affected by streaming, COVID and just about everything else this year,” senior brand manager Derek Dye told Media Play News at the time. “We are hoping to pull at the heartstrings of physical media fans, video store fanatics and movie lovers as a whole to support us in this difficult time for our business.”

The campaign ran Nov. 9 to 22, boosted by a video of support for the chain from Smith, whose Clerks famously included scenes at a video store. The major push, though, was at the store level, Dye told Media Play News in November.

“We are going for a very grassroots initiative with our stores making signage, posters, painting the windows of our stores to get the word out,” Dye said. “We think that strategy along with the help of media outlets could help us immensely to drive traffic and awareness to our stores.”

In early 2019, Family Video began selling cannabidiol (CBD) products in more than 70 stores in Michigan and 250 locations nationwide. At the time, the chain still consisted of about 700 stores.

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